In the summer of travel chaos, is the timing right to start a private jet?

Air travel shouldn’t be that difficult. Admittedly, in the age of low-cost, no-frills airlines, few of us expect much luxury when we arrive at the airport gates, but at least we often assume our booked flights will depart with minimal delay.

For the next few months at least, that confidence may be misplaced. With travel demand soaring as Covid restrictions fade, UK airlines and airports are struggling to recruit and train enough staff to ensure everything is running as usual. The industry’s problems came to a head in the period around the spring school break and the Queen’s Silver Jubilee celebrations. It was prime time to fly, and day in and day out, airlines and travel companies were canceling hundreds of flights, throwing holiday plans for thousands of people into disarray. And it wasn’t just in Britain. Airports serving Dublin, Amsterdam and Toronto were also hit by the cancellations. Not the best watch in the industry.

So perhaps this is the time to launch a company that aims to make a more luxurious – or at least convenient – form of aviation accessible to more people.

Launched earlier this year, TailHail is now offering an app to complement its existing website, a company founded to make private jet travel easier for people who were previously priced out of the market. It would be wrong to suggest that this democratizes the rare world of private flying – you need to be very good to board a flight booked through TailHail – but it lowers the price points.

Headwind or tail wind?

Then again, is this really a good time to launch? There are quite a few headwinds to overcome. Stagnating economies, inflation, energy prices and the ongoing climate change agenda. These are factors that may mitigate any expansion of private jet travel. When I spoke to co-founders James Moon and Marla Obie, I was eager to learn more about a private airline’s standing in these turbulent economic times.

Tail Hail is basically a booking platform that aims to benefit both private jet owners/operators and potential customers. The idea is that by creating a central market, owners can get the most out of their planes – for example by ensuring that a plane that travels from London to southern France is booked in both directions rather than, say, full in the first leg and empty in the second. This is an important factor. If there is a full plane on only one leg, the passengers are actually paying for the round trip. If both legs are booked, the costs will be equal.

“With our technology, we can lower the price points,” Moon says.

As Moon sees it, the private jet market is fragmented, inefficient, and surprisingly low-tech. “Most of the booking was manual,” he says. The TailHail system allows owners to upload their flights and itineraries and advertise empty legs, which consumers can then book.

But is this really a market ready for expansion? For all the denials of low-cost travel — baggage restrictions, and the apparent lack of free refreshments that come to mind — the love affair between travelers and airlines offering routes into the sun for just a few pounds, euros or dollars isn’t seems to be diminishing.

Market segments

But TailHail has some obvious market segments in mind, including business travelers looking for more comfort and affluent millennials willing to spend a little more for the kind of comfort that private jets offer.

“There are huge benefits to private flying,” says Marla Obi. “It includes convenience and time spent traveling – you can go directly to a particular airport on a private jet. And in some countries, private flying is a must for getting around.” Obi also believes that the pandemic has increased potential demand. “What we’ve noticed is that people are increasingly concerned about germs,” ​​she says.

The recent travel chaos may also prompt business and consumer travelers to consider new ways of travel, if the price is right.

environmental question

But let’s go back to the affluent millennials – a generation that is said to be environmentally conscious to the point of avoiding brands that are environmentally or socially less than optimal. Will they be warm for private flying?

“We’re not putting more planes in the air,” says Obi. “We’re making better use of planes that fly.”

The moon emphasizes this point. “We are very proud of the fact that our technology will reduce the impact of aviation on the environment,” he says.

The Tailhail platform has never been easy or easy to build. The private jet market is a neat umbrella term for countless operators. Some are good and some are bad. The Hail Tail began in the test launch phase by creating a small network. This allowed the team to learn about the operators and also work through any bugs in the software platform. As the launch of the application approaches, the scope of the process is now being expanded.

Do you succeed? It remains to be seen but with the potential for air transport chaos to continue, a platform that allows people to book flights and travel to and from convenient airports with minimal delays may find a good audience. Likewise, the economic headwinds at the moment are very real.

Leave a Comment